From Mozart's birth town to a ranch without animals and more schnitzel than one can fathom, Austria continues to treat us well.
25.04.2014 - 30.04.2014 25 °C
A week ago, with only 6 days left in Austria, we made a last-minute decision to go to Salzburg for a day. We’d entertained the idea before, in fact rather wanted to spend a weekend there, but time passed quickly and we didn’t work it into our plans. We were going to forgo it altogether, until I (Chloé) watched the first twenty minutes of the Sound of Music. The green rolling hills, medieval fortress, quaint baroque town on the riverside, nestled into the lush surrounding valley cast a spell on me ... or was it Julie Andrews' voice? Whichever, I quickly decided it was somewhere we oughtn't to miss.
We took a morning train and arrived just before midday. It was hot and sunny, a perfect afternoon to walk leisurely through the narrow old streets, enjoy live music in the expansive squares while taking in Salzburg’s majestic beauty.
Zadie had her first funicular ride, which we took up to Hohensalzburgerhof (the high Salzburg castle). The fortress is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, and it is almost a thousand years old! It was built in 1077 and looks right out of a fairy tale… but it's totally real life. We enjoyed a bite to eat and drink on a patio at the top, as the sun set on the green fields and snow capped mountains around and beyond.
Here's the fortress seen from the city:
And the view from the top:
The next day we boarded the morning train to Wels, where we were picked up by our friends Tina and Isabelle and driven across undulating yellow fields bright with canola flower in full bloom. Our destination was Strasserhof, something of a Ranch without the animals, where we joined in Tina’s grandmother’s life-partner’s 60th birthday celebrations. Isabelle is a very good friend who I met in high school in Switzerland; she now lives in Vienna.
Dan was excited to watch a hot air balloon take off:
How do Austrians celebrate? With beer, schnitzel, potatoes, accordion and song, and more schnitzel. Seriously, schnitzel three ways, on potatoes three ways. That was lunch. And it when we grew hungry again, for dinner out came more … schnitzel.
Here is a picture of one of six trays of breaded pork cutlets brought to table:
And Tina enjoying it three ways (regular, almandine, and kurbis = pumpkin seed), with roasted potatoes, fries and potato salad:
Half the guests were dressed in traditional Drindle and Trachte, gingham shirts with vest, lederhosen and a jacket for men, and white lace blouses under a tight-bodiced dress with apron for ladies. That was pretty neat, but the highlights were the people and the music. Tina’s relatives brought out the accordion and songbook, and we all sang “Yipee ya ya yippee yippee yay… yippee ya ya yippee yippee yay” and other such traditional chants together.
Can we talk about the transportation system here for a moment? Dan and I are just blown away by it's speed and efficiency. Sure I know it's Europe and of course I remember it was amazing from last time. But after being back in Canada for ten years I'd forgotten how good it is. And it's another one of those things, the older I get, the more I... you know. Anyway, the UBahn (subways) that cris-cross the city will take you anywhere in minutes. But even better was the train we took to Salzburg (from the train station it took us only 9 minutes to get to from our house)... it flew along the tracks at 200 km an hour! Sure there are fast trains lots of other places, but they like to make it known. Here it was no big deal. There was a children's section with room for them to play on the floor (or us to set up our baby crib), and the dining car serves delicious fresh food, excellent coffees, beer and wine at school cafeteria cost.
Back in Vienna, on Monday night we took a waltz lesson with Daniel and Theresa at the prestigious Elmayer Tanzschule. We learned the basics for the Viennese waltz If you haven’t seen it, check out the link – it’s fast and graceful, and the dancers look like birds in rapid flight. We did well with the basic steps, when the music was slowed down to about one tenth normal speed. Quarter turns were ok, but when we progressed to half turns spinning in circle down a line, and Strauss was cranked to full speed, we looked more like flapping chickens than soaring birds. Our goal is to waltz for the first dance at our wedding. We’ve committed two hours a week to practice, and with fourteen weeks to go, I have hope.
Dan decided to at once leave a bit of himself behind and take something of Vienna with him, so went to a salon and got a stylish Euro hair cut. Check it out:
Yesterday we packed up, had a delicious and very enjoyable dinner with our dear friends Teresa and Daniel, and caught the train out of town this morning. With baby gear (crib, high chair, bouncy chair, jolly jumper) we are not packing light, so we were immensely relieved and appreciative when Teresa and Daniel offered to bring half our luggage to the UBahn, and Teresa accompanied us all the way to the station!
Good times with Teresa and Daniel - Zadie took a real liking to both of them... and their cats!:
It’s best to leave wanting they say, and so we are. Our stay in Vienna was fabulous, flawless really. It felt like home, and we could have stayed much longer. But with Ljubljana, Pula, Venice and Berlin in chapters to come, we are excited to turn the page in our adventure book.